Better Education Conference Workshop led by Greg Whitby
Summarised by Anemie Beck, SCEA Board member
Greg Whitby, CEO leading Catholic Schools in the diocese of Woolongong and Paramatta, themed his talk "Singing the Lord's song in a strange land". He stressed that living and teaching from a Christian world view is by nature counter-cultural. To create change we need to use the strong narrative of the Bible to create a narrative for God in a "strange land". He quoted Sir Ken Robinson about Death Valley and it's dormant state and likened it to leadership. Greg feels that the role of a good leader is to manage climate control: Create a climate suitable for change / innovation.
We watched a movie clip about a little robot called Buddy that is used in a special needs classroom in one of his schools and asked the audience what we thought the strengths of this program was and where did we think the idea came from. The audience touched on some good ideas and Greg summarised that in history great ideas developed often from fluid networks that met casually in coffee shops all over the world. He feels the experts are the people who work at ground level and today's coffee shops is often a different space, sometimes even a virtual space. In education the experts are the occupants of the classroom. The students and the teachers can tell very clearly what works and what doesn't. An effective leader listens to these members of the network, and enables them to use all the wonderful resources available through technology to develop ideas about what can work for the specific needs identified.
Greg reminded leaders to keep the focus on the correct target, which should be student learning, followed by teachers teaching, then teachers learning, etc. in an increasing circle. To be innovative, we do not need to re-invent the wheel or anything spectacular like that. We just have to find new, effective uses for the affordable technologies and resources available. That way, our student learning will improve in the most God inspired innovative ways.